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Thread: Bass on fly in winter.

  1. #1

    Default Bass on fly in winter.

    I do lots of bass fish. Its my main form of fish. I struggle to get bass on fly during winter. Could anyone give me some tips on what, flies, retrive etc to try. Maybe a picture of flies I can try. In summer I don't struggle with top water action. But winter is another kettle of fish.
    Last edited by flyingbass; 04-08-14 at 06:34 PM.

  2. #2
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    I can't think of a more difficult flyfishing problem offhand - bass in winter are doable but even on conventional gear it isn't easy. A few suggestions:

    1. Fish water as close to the sea as you can - eg Hazelmere/Inanda/Shongweni - i.e. find warmest water possible, big dams generally warmer than small ones. Water temp should be above 14/15C.
    2. Concentrate on shore structure (rocks/trees/green weed) close to deep water (deep = >2m, close is no more than 2m from structure to deep water)
    3. Topwater bugs or big bulky flies fished shallow right around structure last 30 minutes before the bats come out will work - in coastal KZN best part of the session is usually at dusk. Try to make sure you are on a prime spot (not sitting in your car) at dusk. Chances for a big fish are good this time of year.

    If you want to fish earlier in the day be prepared to fish at a snails pace with your fly bumping on the bottom adjacent structure mentioned earlier. Personally I'd rather stick pins under my fingernails - it's more fun. Some things fly rods were never meant to do - this is one of them. If you don't mind hanging around the plastic tossing heathen you might check out the KZN section of the Kickboat forum - they're friendly, mostly harmless and will happily give you decent bassing intel. My handle on the forum is Luremaniac.

  3. #3

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    Luremaniac its darryl from the kickboat forum. Love fly fishing and just miss it in winter. Only do it in salt and that's not that often.
    Thanks for the advice. Will try this weekend. Hopefully we can meet up on the water at some stage.
    Last edited by flyingbass; 04-08-14 at 08:03 PM.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by flyingbass View Post
    Luremaniac its darryl from the kickboat forum. Love fly fishing and just miss it in winter. Only do it in salt and that's not that often.
    Thanks for the advice. Will try this weekend. Hopefully we can meet up on the water at some stage.
    Hi Darryl

    SW flyfishing in KZN is almost as tough as winter bass on the fly! Respect! Sure I'll see you at some point on the water...I'll show a spot or two to put those flies.

  5. #5
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    Some good advice there...

    Personally I think chucking a fly for Bass is a waste of time (remember I said personally, this is just my opinion, you're allowed to differ) it's fun but very inefficient.

    Having said that, in my opinion there are a few lessons to be learnt from the, so described, heathen plastic worm chuckers, regarding Bass in (relatively speaking) colder conditions than the intense summer Bassing fun, we're used to.

    1) Reaction bites v Feeding Response.

    It's a well known fact that you can hammer Bass all throughout winter, when fishing reaction baits such as cranks, jerks, spinner baits and even spinners. Essentially you're getting a non feeding fish to react to your lure/fly out of aggression. This works, very much so, in fact. In this case you would have to tie flies that focus on triggering an aggression response, there are lots of patterns that feature rattles, propellers, diving lips and even blades to stimulate a response from otherwise inactive Bass.

    2) Depth.

    When it's cold, bass typically hold deep, much deeper than what one is used to in summer. Find deeper water and fish a sinking line to get your flies to where they are. If the day warms up significantly as measured by change in water temperature, then they might start moving into shallower water to hunt, but still not the really shallow water one is used to in summer.

    Deep is deep, >2M at best. Find the structure and also the cover in that depth and you are bound to find fish on/around it.

    3) Colour

    Winter would suggest clearer water therefore more natural colours would be a better choice ... Is the line a sensible thinking angler would come up with. Explain to me then why Bass eat Junebug plastics in crystal clear water and I will gladly give more consideration to colour selection in future. Personally I think you should have a little of everything, Bass be crazy!

    It would be logical however to use more natural colours when you're trying to illicit a feeding response as opposed to aggression.

    4) Time of day

    You can get them on an aggression response any time of the day, I have had Bass bounce on me just after sunrise in water 7 deg C. It comes back to what you are going to entice them with, feeding response or aggression.

    The last hour before dark can be good, if it was an exceptionally nice day and the water has warmed up enough to get the fish moving, but topwater is more for when it's warmer. A fish won't come up two meters or more to hit a topwater fly when it's cold, even when the water is clear.

    It helps if you know the water you're fishing and it's depth.

    HTH,
    "Hierdie drol het baie vlieŽ" - Ago 2014.

  6. #6

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    Scythe thanks for this. Will be trying to get the bass to react to my fly. Seen an article in "the complete fly fisherman" on adding lips to a fly. Will be looking at that article again.

  7. #7
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    I've remembered a fly technique I used successfully for deepwater bass - basically tied a big booby with rabbit or marabou and used a no-stretch super fast-sinking line with 2 or 3' of tippet. Takes were noticeable and the inertia of the line probably helped get the hook point in which helped with hook-up ratios.

    The cold water reaction bite certainly is part of the picture - I recall Larry Dahlberg's #1 fly approach for big predators was fast-sink line + Dahlberg diver - basically got fly swimming down, banging into the bottom like a crankbait. Still tedious though.

    As to bass and fly being a waste of time most of the time I'd agree with this caveat - find a piece of water with lots of unpressurised bass and the fly is pretty effective. I have fished a particular small public dam for nearly 20 years - in the early days topwater bites and fly were a regular part of most spring/summer/autumn sessions. Nowadays a topwater fish is much less likely and I often have to fish slower and deeper into cover to get fish. I believe fish numbers are about the same but the pressure (angler hours) has increased by a factor of at least 10 and fish behaviour has definitely changed. I've read research from the US that documents catch rates in initially unfished water fall off very quickly once pressure increases. Like most problems we have today at base it's basically TMBP (too many bloody people).

  8. #8
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    I agree, the one caveat is small dams, with one additional criteria from my side, which would be clear water.

    Sightfishing for Bass in smaller impoundments is great fun on a flyrod.
    "Hierdie drol het baie vlieŽ" - Ago 2014.

  9. #9
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    Bass???? Find any crevice with water in in SA. Cast anything that does not resemble a head of cabbage within 3 meters of them. Hold on! It's only gonna last 30 seconds.
    Whenever you find that you are on the side of the majority, it is time to reform

  10. #10
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    I had access to 2 amazing farm dams for a few years (eventually a land invasion stuffed the farm up) - clean water, not colder than 14C in winter, fair bit of weed but also channels etc. Definitely fished better on fly than conventional, especially in winter where slow sinking flies and glass lines absolutely killed it. In summer there were also serious redbreasts (>1kg) to be caught. If I had permanent access to water like that I'd have got rid of my conventional tackle long ago. Unfortunately I do almost no flyfishing these days because on my local waters it would transform challenging fishing (with gear) into mostly futile fishing with fly. Given 3-4 hours a week to fish this wouldn't be a good deal.

    In summary the basic Scythe thesis on bass and fly fishing is solid.

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